In the midst of two federal investigation and a surge of public outrage, Activision Blizzard — and its CEO, Bobby Kotick — are finally making some concrete changes to the company that aren’t merely canceling BlizzCon and renaming one of their game’s characters. This announcement comes after the videogame empire, famous for owning hit franchises such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush, was ousted for maintaining a “frat boy” culture at their offices earlier this summer, with numerous victims reporting unfair labor practices and sexual misconduct. Since then, many workers have begun to privately sue the company while both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) opened investigations into Activision’s misconduct. In an attempt to restore some hope in the company, Activision Blizzard is now taking action.
In a letter shared earlier this morning, Kotick announced a series of initiatives the company is taking to help reestablish faith in the company after admitting “guardrails weren’t in place everywhere to ensure that our values were being upheld,” chief among these being a massive pay cut for the chief executive officer.
“Over the last decade, as we’ve brought in new companies, grown our workforce, and expanded our business, we believed we had the systems, policies, and people in place to ensure that our company always lived up to its reputation as a great place to work. Clearly, in some vitally important aspects, we didn’t .. In some cases, people didn’t consistently feel comfortable reporting concerns, or their concerns weren’t always addressed promptly or properly. People were deeply let down and, for that, I am truly sorry.”
Following his apology, Kotick announced Activision Blizzard will be reducing his salary to the minimum allowed Under California law for salaried workers: $62,500. In addition, Kotick said he will not be receiving any bonuses or equity grants. This takes Kotick from being the second-highest paid chief executive nationwide — bringing in a whopping $154 million just last year — to one on the lower end of the spectrum.
In addition, Kotick said Activision Blizzard will be implementing a “zero-tolerance” harassment policy while also ending mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment and discriminations claims, meaning employees will now be able to sue the company directly rather than go through a company arbitrator if they feel they are being discriminated against. The company also vowed to increase the percentage of women and non-binary people in its ranks by 50% and be more transparent about pay equity, as well stated it will invest $250 million to advance opportunities for diverse workers. Lastly, Kotick has promised “regular progress updates” with a “dedicated focus on this vital work” will be delivered alongside the company’s annual earnings report and other public disclosures.
Right now, Activision is currently in the process of trying to pay $18 million to settle an investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. However, the California regulator has said the “proposed settlement amount is too low and that the agreement includes provisions harmful to victims and its case,” (via The Wall Street Journal). While it’s uncertain just how everything will be resolved, here’s hoping the company’s proposed plan — and some forced accountability — help ensure some justice is dealt.